The weeks leading up to Christmas can be the busiest time of year for many, but for senior living sales teams, it’s the post-holiday rush that puts providers to the test.
For families, the holiday season is often a time for gathering. But for senior living sales personnel, it’s a time for planning, training and ultimately converting leads into move-ins. Unlike Santa’s elves, whose big show is the 24th of December, the timetable for sales staff runs from Thanksgiving to well after New Year’s Day—a period where some are seeing inquiries spike up to 50%.
“Once families are together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, those who have been away or remote come face to face with the aging process,” says Teri Marinko, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Benchmark Senior Living.
The Wellesley, Massachusetts-based company sees internet inquiries for its communities pick up between November and December as families begin to do their own research and discovery into senior living options for their loved ones.
Going into January and February, Benchmark’s leads increase by about 40%, Marinko says, attributing January as one of the company’s strongest months for new leads.
“Families would prefer to make the decision for senior living after the holidays,” she says. “But there are some times where they can’t wait—where something has happened that the family now has to make a decision quickly.”
The company operates 50 communities across New England, comprising 4,563 total units. Adverse weather the region has been experiencing this winter, like the Nor’Easter that has already swept through the area this winter, only adds to the need for families to initiate the discussion on senior housing options.
To prepare not only for the heightened inquiries, but for the weather as well, Benchmark’s sales teams are focused on the leads they’ve been working with, providing education to families, specifically as it applies in telling them what to look for when visiting mom and dad over the holidays.
“As we move into winter in New England, we’re helping families understand there are things they can do to make sure mom or dad is living safely alone,” Marinko says. “Our sales and marketing teams are also focused on helping families know what to look for, indicators that mom or dad might be better served in an assisted living environment.”
Helping families initiate conversations about senior housing is one of the major focuses for A Place for Mom this holiday season.
As a national referral source for all things senior care, A Place for Mom tends to see a significant bump in senior housing inquiries immediately after Christmas, says Chief Marketing Officer Ed Nevraumont, who notes about 50% higher volume compared to the rest of the year.
But not all holidays are equal. While it may be commonplace for inquiries to jump anywhere from 5% to 10% after any given holiday—with the exception of Christmas—surprisingly enough, Mother’s Day doesn’t see much of a lift, says Nevraumont, attributing this phenomenon to the lack of a long weekend around this holiday.
“Because we know we’re going to see this big bump, we’re spending all year getting ready for it,” says Nevraumont.
This includes ensuring the company’s national call center and local advisors across the country are well-staffed and well-trained to face the anticipated increase in volume A Place for Mom is likely to see.
“We’re basically all hands on deck,” Nevraumont says. “We can relax up until Christmas, but when it’s over, we need to make sure our systems and advisors are [prepared].”
The week before Christmas, the company launched a new Caregiver Toolkit, its latest resource aimed at educating families about senior care options. The 75-page guide includes checklists, worksheets and other tools to help families proactively look for signals regarding their loved ones’ health and living conditions during visits.
“The holidays are a good time to approach that conversation,” says Sarah Sheridan, digital media and public relations manager at St. Louis-based Allegro Management Company.
Allegro, whose communities are located predominantly in Florida, strategically launched its redesigned website just before Thanksgiving, a time when the company anticipates increased viewer traffic from prospective leads as the year winds down.
With the central mission of providing insight into daily life at its communities, Allegro streamlined navigation on its revamped web page, using rotating headers and larger photos that it had previously featured to showcase its communities—even developing a feature that lets users take virtual 360-degree tours of its properties.
“The site is much more user-friendly in terms of navigation and design,” Sheridan says. “We want our prospects to find information quickly online and improve processes between prospects and our sales teams. All of that supports what we are doing.”
And the redesign arrives at the most opportune time for the company, which typically sees between a 20% to 30% increase in inquiries and traffic to its website after the holidays, Sheridan says.
“It’s a trend that we see every year and we do try to plan for that.”
Written by Jason Oliva